If you or a loved one are charged with a fourth or subsequent DUI, you do not need to read this to know that this is a very serious charge with hefty penalties. Prosecutors are hesitant to give anyone a break that has several prior DUI. This hesitation comes from the fear that if they give a break and the person they cut a break to is involved in a DUI crash where a person is killed, there will be a lot of negative publicity.
Will you be charged with a felony for a fourth or subsequent DUI?
If the prosecutor knows that you have at least three prior DUIs the chances are pretty high that you will be charged with a felony.
What if you are arrested for a misdemeanor DUI and not a felony DUI?
Just because you were only arrested for misdemeanor does not mean the case will stay forever as a misdemeanor. The prosecution is the party bringing the charges and they have the discretion to bring the charges that they believe are appropriate. As such, if a you were arrested for a misdemeanor DUI and the prosecution discovers that this is your fourth or subsequent DUI, then they can increase the charges to a felony.
Will the state know about your prior DUI charges?
Possibly. The state may know about them and they may not know about your prior. If the prior DUI charges are from within the state of Florida the chances are very high that the state will find out about them. If the charges are from another state it is possible that they might not be discovered. If the charges are from outside Florida then the prosecution would have to either order the out of state driving record showing the DUI or order a national background check on you.
How much jail are you facing for a fourth or subsequent DUI?
If you are charged with a felony then you are facing up to five (5) years in prison. There may or may not be a minimum jail sentence when you are charged as a felony. The minimum jail sentence depends upon factors such other prior criminal history. The minimum jail sentence would follow a guideline scoresheet like every other felony in the state of Florida.
A scoresheet is a formula that the legislature came up with to determine appropriate jail sentences. The formula takes into account the crimes you are charges with, and prior criminal history, and other aggravating factors(such as victim injuries ). In a fourth or subsequent DUI charge because there are priors DUIs these prior DUI charges are considered prior criminal history and go on your scoresheet. This is true even if the prior DUIs are misdemeanors.
The guideline scoresheet only gives a minimum possible jail sentence. Often times on a fourth DUI the prosecutors will try to give you significantly more time in jail because of the prior DUI convictions.
What is the driver's license suspension for a fourth or subsequent DUI?
A fourth or subsequent DUI is similar to all other DUIs in that there is both an administrative(DMV) suspension and a criminal court suspension. The administrative(DMV) driver's license suspension is the same as for a second or third DUI.
A criminal court suspension will likely be ten (10) years or more. It potentially can be a permanent suspension.
What are the defenses to a fourth DUI?
The defenses to a fourth DUI are the same as for any other DUI. The fact that it is a felony DUI does not change your potential defenses. The main difference is that the stakes for jail time are much higher for a fourth DUI. An experienced DUI defense lawyer fighting for you is essential.
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh we have three prosecutors who have all specialized in handling cases where people have multiple DUIs. We have over a hundred jury trials and have litigated nearly all the possible issues that can arise in a DUI case. When you're charged with a DUI, your life and future is on the line. Call us for a free case evaluation to strategize your defense.